The Cooperative Research Centres Association is a not-for-profit organisation operating to promote the pursuit of science, particularly through the Australian Government’s CRC Program.

You don’t have to be a CRC to join, find out more about our types of membership and benefits of joining the association.

Registration Now Open !

Registrations are now open for the 2015 CRC Association Conference, The Australia 2040 Forum.

This year is the 25th Anniversary of the Cooperative Research Centres Program. To celebrate this milestone, we are holding our annual conference in Canberra from 25-27 May 2015.

The Australia 2040 Forum will be held on 26 May in Australian Parliament House. We will look back 25 years over the achievements of Cooperative Research Centres and 25 years into the future, examining the challenges and opportunities for Australia in the next quarter century. A showcase of CRC achievements and the Excellence in Innovation Awards will be held in the Great Hall that evening. A series of important workshops will be held on the 27th.

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An Important Year Ahead For Australian Innovation

Consolidating policy directions, renewed leadership and aspirations and even a low Australian dollar could mean we look back on 2015 as a very positive year in Australian innovation, writes Dr Tony Peacock, CEO of the CRC Association.

This year will see in a lot of changes in the Australian innovation scene. It isn’t a major review year like 2008 or 2002 but if you look at the various issues stacked up, there is the potential for 2015 to be the most important year in a decade or two. We are due to see a number of policy issues come together that will give the framework for much of the innovation scene over the next few years. Rarely have we had a year where so many leaders will be new and looking to make their mark. Finally, the reaction of the business world during 2015 will be critical to our future performance.

Innovation policy directions

There isn’t much doubt about how Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane (with “Science” now formally part of his title) views the direction of science and innovation policy. He is pretty plain spoken and he has consistently called for closer links between science and industry. He tells industry they need to step up at least as much as he says scientists need to focus more on collaboration with industry (although it never seems to get the same media coverage). He has repeatedly called Australia’s level of science-industry collaboration “appalling”, citing the same OECD figures Chief Scientist Ian Chubb has kept drawing our attention to.

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No impact of MYEFO on the Cooperative Research Centres Programme

The Government handed down the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) yesterday, overshadowed by the events that were unfolding in Sydney. All Government expenditure remains under considerable pressure, but changes in the Industry portfolio were relatively small.

Overall, the Industry portfolio’s expenditure will be reduced by almost $50 million in 2014-15 and about $200 million over the forward estimates. The biggest changes – both about $70 million over the forward estimates – are to the government’s administration of the National Training System and to payments to apprentices under the Adult Australia Apprentice scheme, which will cease.

The Industry Skills Fund, part of the recently announced Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda has received about $42 million. Another feature of that policy, the Industry Growth Centres, have had their budget adjusted to put more expenditure later in the forward estimates. But Departmental officials advise this will not affect their starting dates.

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Space Environment Management CRC Lifts Off

The Minister for Industry, the Hon. Ian Macfarlane, launched the CRC for Space Environment Management yesterday at Australian Parliament House to a terrific response.

The CRC, based at Mt Stromlo in the Australian Capital Territory, was one of the CRCs funded in Round 16 and will deal with the growing problem caused by space debris.

Dr. Ben Greene, the Chief Executive Officer of the CRC said, “There are more than 300,000 items of debris orbiting the earth. There is so much debris that it is colliding with itself, and creating more debris. A catastrophic avalanche of collisions which could quickly destroy all orbiting satellites is now possible.”

“Our initial aim is to reduce the rate of debris proliferation caused by new collisions, and then to remove debris using ground-based lasers. Preliminary research has been performed by the individual CRC participants over the past decade, and we will now work together in the CRC to drive the program forward,” Dr Greene said.

The launch also saw the official signing of the partnership between the CRC and the Japanese Institute for Information and Communications Technology (NICT), one of the CRCs essential participants. Dr. Fumihiko Tomita, Vice President and Chief Research & Strategy Officer of NICT, personally travelled to Australia for the signing. Other participants include Lockheed Martin, Optus, EOS Space Systems,RMIT University and the Australian National University.

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Awards for Excellence in Innovation 2015

Applications are now open for the 2015 Awards for Excellence in Innovation.

This year we received an impressive spread of applications at the 2014 Awards, ranging from the RamSelect Training Program from the Sheep CRC, to the Polycrystalline Diamond Tool from the Advanced Manufacturing CRC.

The applications are a testament to the diversity and calibre of work CRCs are currently doing and we expect 2015 to be no exception.

In the past the Awards have been split into two categories: outreach and innovation, this year the criteria is solely impact.

Applications are open to all CRC Association members.

Click here for more details and to register.

CRC Review Update

No matter what happens in the CRC Review, no one will accuse reviewer David Miles of taking it easy.

Last week, Mr Miles was on the road with the CRC programme staff in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane for open forums. On Friday, Mr Miles met with University Australia’s gathering of Deputy Vice Chancellors for Research. This week, Mr Miles is in Canberra with an open forum and separate meetings with the CRC Committee and several directors of the CRC Association.The closing date for submissions is 11 November.

At each forum Mr Miles has made several points: he doesn’t want to read “War and Peace”; he is interested in your “best points” on the CRC programme; and he isn’t personally wedded to the terms of reference. He is more interested in your views – you don’t need to adhere to the Terms of Reference. In other words, he is genuinely interested in your views about CRCs and how they might be improved.

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Alex Sloan and Tony Peacock Chat With Dr Elizabeth Beach, CRC Researcher at the National Acoustics Laboratories on 666 Afternoons

CRC Programme Review Discussion Paper now Available

The CRC Programme Review Discussion Paper has just been released and is available on the review website. Click here

Responses to the discussion paper can be submitted online via the Department of Industry’s consultation hub and are due by 4pm Tuesday 11 November 2014.

Information sessions

Information sessions are being conducted by the Department of Industry and the review leader, Mr David Miles AM next week in Adelaide 27/10, Melbourne 28/10, Sydney 29/10 and Brisbane 30/10. Please note places are limited to a maximum of two people from each organisation.

This is an opportunity for stakeholders to clarify the discussion questions, provide feedback on particular aspects of the CRC programme and to hear from other stakeholders.

Further information

Further details about the venue and details on how to register to attend can also be found on the review website. For any other questions, please email the review secretariat:

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CRC Association responds to the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda

The Australian Government announced a package of measures yesterday in Canberra aimed at increasing the competitiveness of industry and bringing science and industry closer together.

One of the measures announced – five Industry Growth Centres – has sparked speculation about the future of Cooperative Research Centres. A Review of the CRC Program has recently commenced, further fueling speculation that CRC Program will fold into the new Growth Centres. Minister Macfarlane said at yesterday’s media conference ‘Having CRCs as an adjunct to this simply won’t work. Some CRCs will continue and complete their contracts, some will be folded into this process, and some will terminate.’ The Minister indicated he would await the report of reviewer, David Miles.

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CRC Women of Influence Recognised

Associate Professor Elizabeth Scarr, a Program Leader at the CRC for Mental Health and University of Melbourne, and Ms Amanda Davis, Chief Operating Officer of the Vision CRC, have both been named amongst Australia’s 100 Women of Influence 2014 by Westpac and the Australian Financial Review.

Ms Davis was recognised in the Innovation category for her contribution in delivering improved access to vision care for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and people in developing communities, through her work as leader of the Vision CRC Models of Vision Care Program since 2010.

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Louise Maher chats with Associate Professor Elizabeth Scarr on 666 Afternoons

Round 17 Progress

The CRC for Optimising Resource Extraction has progressed to interview in the 17th CRC Funding Round. The other two applicants: the Vision CRC and CO2 CRC, have not progressed. Round 17 was only available to existing CRCs following the 2014 Federal Budget.

CRC ORE is expected to be interviewed in November and the subsequent announcement made in December. A decision on the Innovative Manufacturing CRC has not yet been announced but is expected soon. IM CRC is the combined bid that resulted from the Advanced Manufacturing CRC rebid in Round 16 and the alternative Manufacturing Industry Innovation CRC bid. This proposal was interviewed several months ago.

The fate of the CRC for Northern Agriculture is not known. A bid was developed in response to the Coalition’s election promise to fund a CRC in the space, but the closure of Round 17 has left the bid in limbo. The bid proponents have continued to develop the proposal but no formal mechanism exists for it to be submitted to government. Towards the end of the previous government, three priority CRCs were funded – each were subject to individual negotiations. Any progress on the Northern CRC is likely to be done in a similar way.

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Our time to shine

The Cooperative Research Centres Program will be reviewed by business leader, David Miles AM, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane announced today. The Review was announced on Budget night in May, in line with regular reviews of the CRC Program. Previous reviews have been conducted in 2008 (O’Kane), 2003 (Howard Partners), 1998 (Mercer and Stocker) and 1995 (Myers).

“Now is our time to shine,” said CEO of the CRC Association, Dr. Tony Peacock.

“How many times have you seen calls for closer industry-public research ties; more focussed postgraduate training and greater emphasis on research translation in the past year? It feels like every time prominent industry or science people comment on the Nation’s innovation needs, Cooperative Research Centres tick that box,” said Peacock. “Our job is to show how well CRCs are meeting those needs and help explore how we can contribute even further. We look forward to that opportunity.”

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Alex Sloan chats with Tony Peacock & Ian Chubb, Australia’s Chief Scientist On 666 Afternoons

Chubb’s Recipe – STEM for a Competitive Economy

The Chief Scientist of Australia, Professor Ian Chubb AC, has presented a paper in Canberra today aimed at improving the use of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to boost the nation’s competitiveness.

The paper suggests three areas for action: Australian competitiveness; education and training; research and international engagement.

At the same event, Minister Macfarlane—who has responsibility for science in the government—encouraged scientists to push their agenda. He recognised that science is at the heart of industry policy and indicated several times that the Abbott Government will shortly take measures to address Australia’s “atrocious” business-research collaboration record.

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Cooperative Research Centres “Not Butchered”

On a recent episode of The Business, presenter Ticky Fullerton questioned the Minister for Industry, The Hon. Ian Macfarlane, on “abolishing” the Cooperative Research Centres Program, or at least “butchering it”. Thankfully this is not the situation.

“CRCs are far from abolished” said CRC Association CEO, Dr. Tony Peacock.

“The recent budget cuts hurt, no doubt about it. But we have 36 CRCs working flat out, and a pipeline of new ones in development.”

Minister Macfarlane gave an example of Boeing’s advanced manufacturing earlier in the interview. The CRC for Advanced Composites Structures (CRC-ACS) were integral to that development which has resulted in a $4 billion manufacturing contract over 25 years. The CRC is now working with Airbus on “welding” of composites.

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Media Release: Align, Focus and Scale

14 August 2014

The CRC Association welcomes comments by Professor Ian Chubb, Chief Scientist of Australia, delivered in last night’s speech, No Free Rides to the Future: Shoring up the Science to Sustain Us, at the University of New South Wales during the Jack Beale Lecture.

Professor Chubb summed up his strategy for Australian science into four main objectives: competitiveness, education and training, research and international engagement.

The Chief Scientist said that Australia can and should “align, focus and scale” its research.

“That’s exactly what Cooperative Research Centres do—align, focus and scale” said Tony Peacock, CEO of the CRC Association. “It’s no coincidence that CRCs performs so well in any measure of research impact, they are designed for this outcome”.

“Bidding for a CRC is a very competitive process” says Tony Peacock “only the best get funded”. “CRCs also place a considerable focus on education and training—producing industry-ready graduates— and are highly collaborative, not only internationally but domestically”.

Information: Tony Peacock, CRC Association
Phone: 02 6273 0624
Email: Website:

Tony Peacock and Alex Sloan (666 ABC) discuss Data to Decisions CRC with Tim Scully